1. The power of the story

Word is that John Lewis generated £91m in a single week before Christmas. And a large part of that success was down to an imaginative television ad, which told the story of a cartoon snowman travelling over mountains, through rivers and across cities in search of the perfect gift for the snow-woman in his life.

This fairytale quite simply succeeded in captivating its audience, to extremely profitable effect. 

Of course the concept of brand stories is nothing new. But we do believe the John Lewis experience will encourage other brands to look further at the power of storytelling as a branding technique through which to increase consumer engagement.

2. Promises, promises

Remember that woeful business of the McDonald’s Twitter initiative in 2012, which backfired so spectacularly when the company invited consumers to tweet their #McDStories?

Many customers responded by tweeting pictures of their purchases which unfortunately looked rather less appetizing than the product shots in the company’s communications and restaurants. Ouch!

The need for brands to keep their promises has never been so critical – not least because social media has given consumers so much power to voice their opinions and experiences of brands to the world at large.

Staying true to brand values will be as vital for employees in 2013 as it will be for brand and marketing departments – and it’s never been more important for senior management to inspire employees to keep those brand promises.

3. For ‘multichannel’, read ‘trans-media’

Until now, ‘multichannel’ has meant distribution of brand assets to print, web and mobile channels from a single source, usually a brand or digital asset management system. 

But that’s changing. We agree with Real Story Group’s Theresa Regli, who predicts that, during 2013, there will be a trend towards delivering different aspects of the brand promise through different media or, as Ms Regli has termed it, ‘trans-media’.

In order to achieve this trans-media distribution, brand management software must be able to segment messages, depending on channel.  This is designed to ensure that consumers experience the brand in ways that suit their personal needs – while allowing the brand manager to maintain brand consistency.

4. In the eye of the consumer

Traditionally, brands have directed messages at the consumer without regard for individual preferences or behaviour. But we think 2013 will see a marked change with sharper focus on consumers’ interactions with and experiences of brands. 

In short, this means seeing the picture from the consumer’s viewpoint. By mapping the customer’s experience from his or her individual point of view, the brand will be able to extract data from which to assess whether it is keeping its brand promises.

5. Media on the move

Social media and mobile communications together have become an unstoppable force and we foresee no slow-up in 2013. Everyone now has a significant voice; peer-to-peer purchase behaviour and recommendations are becoming more and more important in purchase decisions; and in-store mobile buying is a fast developing trend.

This is driven not least by a new generation of smart apps that quickly learn their users’ preferences and behaviour, offering suggestions and reminders. And of course this presents brands with a potential wealth of data to pick up on. Indeed, brands are catching on fast to these changes in the retail landscape, with in-store wi-fi and mobile discounts now becoming standard.

And, indeed, it is these evolving technological and customer-driven trends that underpin our final prediction for 2013. Because we believe the key differentiator for brands this year will be how effectively they can succeed in tying their brand stories and promises to the emerging raft of new engagement opportunities.

An exciting year ahead? We think so – and we hope a rewarding one for all.